Joe Arpaio Kneels Before Federal Power, Complies with Judge's Enforcement Order
We now know it takes close to a month for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to send out a mass e-mail, and even then, only under the threat of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's being found in contempt of court by a federal judge.
How close Arpaio got to having the cuffs slapped on him, we may never know. But in federal court in Phoenix on Wednesday, Judge G. Murray Snow declared at the end of an hour-long hearing that the MCSO "is in substantial compliance" with a recent enforcement order in the ACLU's big civil rights case Melendres v. Arpaio.
No, we're not talking about Snow's final injunction of October 2013. That document laid out the specifics of what the MCSO must do to get right with the U.S. Constitution, which Joe's been treating as a doormat, lo these many years.
Faced with the judge's belt, Arpaio caved, after nearly a month of stalling...
The MCSO's compliance with that order is a long ways off.
Still, after much heel-dragging by Arpaio and his underlings, Snow finally was able to force the MCSO to disseminate to nearly all of its employees a "corrective statement," addressing bogus propaganda about Melendres, spewed by Arpaio, his Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Deputy Chief David Trombi, and, most recently Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre.
During the hearing, MCSO Captain Larry Farnsworth testified that out of 3,297 compensated employees (excluding those on leave for some reason), 97.5 percent had done their required reading and had signed an attestation to that effect.
Command staff, sergeant and above, also read Snow's May 2013 decision in Melendres, finding the MCSO guilty of racial profiling, and Snow's October injunction.
Chief Deputy Sheridan attended Wednesday's hearing, though Arpaio did not. Afterward, Sheridan stated that even Arpaio had done all of his homework and signed that he had done so.
"His signature is right beside mine," Sheridan informed the reportorial scrum outside the courthouse.
If this sounds akin to obedience, remember that Arpaio's lawyer Tim Casey first submitted a draft corrective statement to the court on April 10, declaring that Arpaio would sign off on it.
That's when the usual MCSO shenanigans began.
On April 15, after Arpaio had been stung by adverse media, Casey rescinded the sheriff's offer and asked for a do-over.
Ticked, Snow issued an "enforcement order" on April 17, instructing the MCSO to send out the document to all MCSO employees.
Arpaio replied with a statement saying this would be done.
But, of course, the MCSO soon came back to Snow, asking if it could exempt everyone on the jail side of the agency from their court-ordered homework.
Snow allowed an exemption for jail volunteers and a few others, but that's it.
According to Farnsworth, 780 unpaid jail volunteers were exempted, per the order.
Posse staff are not exempted, but so far, only about 78 percent of the MCSO's 1,892 posse members have complied.
Farnsworth indicated that the corrective statement was disseminated to MCSO personnel via "e-mail distribution," with readers signing attestation logs.
Random oral testing on general comprehension was done by supervisors. And one of the monitor's staff quizzed some MCSO employees on comprehension.
All of the paperwork involved has been made available for the monitor's inspection, according to Farnsworth.
One amusing moment occurred when Casey asked Farnsworth about the MCSO's "truth-telling policy," which supposedly punishes dishonesty with termination.
Casey described the policy as "you lie, you die."
Were that true, Arpaio himself would have died a thousand deaths, long ago.
At least a thousand.
Outside the courthouse, I asked Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Tom Liddy, one of Arpaio's lawyers, why it took so long to send out a simple mass e-mail.
"It didn't," he buffaloed. "Speed of light. Outstanding work done by the Maricopa County Sheriff! Over Easter, mind you."
Um, yeah, Easter was on the 20th, a Sunday, and neither Good Friday, nor Easter Monday are county holidays.
Even if you count from the 17th, the date when an angered Snow issued his enforcement order, it took the MCSO more than two weeks.
Speed of light? More like speed of carrier pigeon. With busted wing.
The ACLU's Dan Pochoda was more on the money, describing the process as having been "too long and too tortured," for "just handing out and making people read the basic documents in this case."
He added: "It was somewhat shocking to hear in some prior hearings that the top two or three people had not even read the judge's orders, and yet, that did not stop them from characterizing them wrongly to other MCSO personnel and to deputies."
In fact, this entire, ridiculous sideshow has been one of classic Arpaio brinksmanship.
All over an e-mail, for cryin' out loud!
See, Arpaio only does his chores when daddy's standing over him, belt in hand. He's that kind of childish coward.
And when daddy turns his back, Arpaio and his fellow spoiled brats are sure to get up to no good.
Which is why Snow appointed babbysitter, er, monitor Robert Warshaw, who has a team sure to let Snow know when Arpaio is naughty.
One other issue, which will be before Snow in a hearing scheduled for May 14, is paying the monitor.
In a court filing dated May 2, Snow describes "an impasse" on the subject of "invoices and/or payments" to the monitor, and instructs Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson and Doug Irish from the county attorney's office to be present for the May 14 hearing.
Apparently, this has to do with the specificity of the invoices the monitor will submit. Liddy downplayed the matter, saying it was about "what format the invoices are going to come in, that sort of thing."
In the May 2 document, Snow indicates that both sides are working "in good faith" for a resolution.
We'll see what comes of this next week.
Got a tip for The Bastard? Send it to: Stephen Lemons.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.